Watching a parent’s health decline with age is among the most stressful
life events for any son or daughter.
But working together as a family to find and hire a professional caregiver
can alleviate some of that stress and strain. It can also create new bonds
between family members. Drawing on each other for support, expertise and
input is vital in creating a care plan for an aging parent.
Delaying these conversations, or worse, not involving all family members
early on can lead to hurt feelings, damaged relationships and a delay in
getting the most comprehensive care for Mom or Dad.
The crucial first step is to assemble the whole family, including those who
may be difficult or in denial. For more information on building consensus
within your family for a home care strategy, click here.
There is often a role for everyone. Here are a few ways that each family
member can get involved.
Primary Family Caregiver
The responsibility of becoming the primary family caregiver when Mom or Dad
gets sick tends to
fall on daughters. If the responsibility has fallen on a sister, make sure she wants to
continue this role. If she doesn’t, the family can work together to
investigate home care options and hire a professional caregiver.
With frank and honest conversation, another sibling or even an adult
grandchild - who may have more time with less personal demands in his or
her life - may want to take more of a role organizing the research to give
the primary family caregiver a needed break.
But at least one family member should take the lead to ensure that family
members continue coming together to discuss options and keep the family on
Most siblings have the expertise or specialized skills that can be
activated as the family begins its journey to find a professional
Who researches as part of their job? Who is the most critical thinker among
the siblings? Is there an accountant or a bookkeeper in the group? Is there
a doctor or a nurse? How about a lawyer?
Delineate the tasks ahead and find the sibling with the natural expertise
in that area. The work will be more thorough and will get done faster,
meaning your parent gets the best care possible. The following are
The researcher, or expert Googler in the group, can seek out home care
options in your area and dig deeper for state ratings or find license
information on each.
The critical thinker (some may call this person the naysayer) can draft a
list of tough questions to ask each provider and push for clear, concise
and honest answers. This sibling is likely the one to push for proof of
The doctor or nurse or other healthcare professional can
bring a medical eye and knowledge to the team and ask medical-related,
The accountant or bookkeeper can take on the task of looking at finances
and cost of home care services to see what the family can afford. This
sibling may be able to find better rates and better policies that fit with
family need and finances.
The lawyer or paralegal can be tasked with reviewing
contracts and other legally binding documents. This sibling needs to be
mindful of end-of-life documents, like living wills or a durable power
Your Parent’s Siblings
Don’t be afraid to lean on your aunts and uncles.
Enlist them to help, if they are willing and able, to share possible
triggers for your mom or dad. They also may be able to offer
recommendations for professional caregivers that either they or their
friends have used in the past. Look for negative feedback as well as
They also may be the trusted voice that helps convince your parent of the
best professional care options as you move closer to a decision.
Often overlooked in such discussions and decision making, grandchildren -
young and adult - can offer unique perspectives. They know their
grandparents like few others and often can be more candid. Grandchildren
are also excellent at research through social media and can help validate
home care providers.
Take them along to visit possible providers. They may be bolder when asking
questions and not afraid to offend anyone. Remember they also want the very
best for grandma or grandpa. They also may see things you don’t.
Family friends will likely know Mom or Dad very well and, if willing, may
be able to provide input into the best (or worst) type of caregiver for
your parent. They may recognize that Dad is just plain stubborn and will be
able to give thoughts on the kind of professional caregiver who can handle
him or, better yet, get him to do what needs to be done.
They may know intimate details about your parent that you don’t and can
offer perspectives you may overlook or simply not know about.
Don’t forget to reach out to your friends as well for expertise in needed
areas that your siblings or others don’t have.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you are not in this alone. There are roles for every family member
in this vital decision. And for more information on why it’s better to act
sooner than later when retaining a professional caregiver,